In honor of my 29th birthday, I thought I would compile a list of the 28 things I’ve learned about life on the long and memorable journey that has been year 28.
1. You think you live in a first world country until you visit Tokyo, and you realize you don’t.
2. There’s nothing quite like a kindness from a stranger, from whom nothing is owed, deserved, or expected (Sometimes the best way to put something has already been written by The Avett Brothers).
3. People are who they are and not who you want them to be. European servers suck; you either learn to accept it or leave.
4. Every single place in the world has some redeeming quality, even Bratislava.
5. When you find yourself exploring the vastness of the world, you realize that your tiny life issues are as insignificant as a pebble in a Plitvice Lakes waterfall.
6. When you go looking for something, you’re always going to find it. So look for something good.
7. To quote one of my best friends, “You’re never going to regret that apartment you didn’t get, but you’ll regret not taking a one-way flight when you had the perfect opportunity to do so.”
8. Good friends will stick around even if you decide to put your life in storage and leave town indefinitely.
9. Great friends will encourage you to do so.
10. Best friends will come with you for the first week and get a matching tattoo to celebrate the occasion.
11. There’s more to life than a career, salary, and promotions. There’s, well… life.
12. Always go where your worth is valued and leave where it is not.
13. It’s cheaper to travel than it is to live back home if you go to the right places.
14. If you never try the things you think you hate, you’ll never get the chance to realize you were wrong about them. Like buses.
15. If you’re having trouble finding a job, maybe you’re looking in the wrong country.
16. Love is too beautiful to be hidden. And in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, I hope the LGBT community everywhere remembers that.
17. The higher the terrorist threat, the cheaper your vacation will be. Don’t let the terrorists win.
18. No matter who you are, there is always someone older, poorer, and less fit than you traveling the same path you are. So you have no excuses.
19. You can get front-of-stage tickets to see Paul McCartney in the Czech Republic for half off its American equivalent. God bless that exchange rate.
20. Travel is more exhausting when you’re dreading your inevitable return to work.
21. There is very little you need to live comfortably. When you become attached to books you never read and gadgets you never use, you lose sight of that.
22. You should always cherish the little things you normally take for granted. Like air conditioning.
23. No matter how far away you are, you should always make time for the people you love back home.
24. The nicest European beaches don’t hold a candle to the beautiful beaches of Florida.
25. I have no idea what I’ve been eating my whole life but it’s not real food.
26. The United States is the world’s Florida.
27. Life is short. Be the person you want to be before that becomes the person you wish you had been.
28. You should never love anyone or anything more than you love yourself.